What Wi-Fi Can Do to “Silver” Amalgam Fillings

WiFi iconSure, Wi-Fi is super convenient and cost effective and everywhere. In fact, though plenty of us can remember life before it, it’s increasingly hard to imagine life without it.

But a Wi-Fi world is not without consequences, such as its effect on mercury amalgam “silver” fillings.

One of the latest studies on this was published last summer in the Journal of Environmental Science & Engineering.

Researchers had amalgam fillings placed in 20 extracted premolars, which were then put in tubes with artificial saliva. Half the teeth were placed in an environment without Wi-Fi exposure; the rest were exposed to 20 minutes of radiation from standard Wi-Fi devices.

After exposure, the artificial saliva was tested for mercury. The teeth that were exposed to radiation released more than twice as much mercury as those in the control group. The authors thus concluded that, although much more research remains to be done,

Exposure of patients with amalgam restorations to radiofrequency radiation emitted from conventional Wi-Fi devices can increase mercury release from amalgam restorations.

That mercury, a potent neurotoxin, is then free to enter the circulation and do its well-known damage.

Other research has likewise suggested that radiofrequency radiation from a wide variety of sources may accelerate mercury release from amalgams. For instance, a 2014 paper in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found more mercury in the urine of those who had an MRI after getting mercury fillings placed, compared with those who got just the fillings but no MRI.

Another MRI study compared 240 surfaces on 60 teeth with amalgams and found that “specimens exposed to MRI exhibited significantly higher microleakage values than control specimens.”

Cell phone radiation has likewise been found to increase mercury release from amalgams. In one study, for instance, half of participants were exposed to mobile phone use for four days after getting amalgams placed, 15 minutes each day. Notably, none of the participants were cell phone users at the time of the study and none had mercury fillings already in their mouths.

Our study demonstrated an elevation of mercury level released from dental amalgam fillings after exposure to microwave radiation emitted form mobile phones.

Such research gives all the more reason to talk with a mercury-free, mercury-safe biological dentist about metal-free, biocompatible alternatives.

The Future of Dentistry Is Mercury-Free

no mercuryThis week marks the 7th anniversary of the Mercury Awareness Week, a joint campaign by Dr. Mercola and Consumers for Dental Choice, the organization leading the fight against the use of mercury amalgam in dentistry.

Our office has proudly been mercury-free – and mercury-SAFE! – for many years now. Through that time, we’ve seen more and more practices turn away from amalgam, too. Just a few decades ago, only 3% of American dentists were mercury-free. Today, more than half are.

More, we now have the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty that went into effect just last week. Among other measures to stop the use of mercury in consumer products and industry, it requires member countries to begin phasing out dental mercury – a provision fought for by Consumers for Dental Choice. And that’s just the latest milestone in the movement toward mercury-free dentistry.

  • 1800s: Mercury-based amalgam fillings are introduced.

  • 1830s: Dentists express concern about the health risks of filling teeth with mercury.

  • 1845: The first US professional association of dentists, the American Society of Dental Surgeons (ASDS), makes its members sign a pledge not to use amalgam. They considered its use malpractice.

  • 1850s: A group of pro-amalgam dentists abandons the ASDS and forms the organization today known as the American Dental Association, which continues to endorse mercury amalgam.

  • 1920s and 30s: German chemist Alfred Stock’s research on mercury toxicity revives interest in amalgam research.

  • 1970s: There is another surge in amalgam research, while Dr. Hal Huggins begins his very vocal campaign against dental amalgam. In 1985, he publishes the first edition of It’s All in Your Head: Diseases Caused by Silver-Mercury Fillings.

  • 1996: Consumers for Dental Choice is founded with the ultimate goal to “phase out the use of amalgam…worldwide.”

  • 1997: Sweden officially announces a ban on mercury amalgam, but it doesn’t pass EU administration until 2008. Norway bans amalgam in 2008, as well.

  • 2013: The Minamata Convention on Mercury treaty is signed.

  • 2016: A new EPA rule requires all dental offices that routinely handle amalgam to install separators to keep mercury out of the water supply. Although the rule is temporarily rolled back in early 2017, it is soon reinstated and takes effect come summer.

Learn more about the march toward mercury-free dentistry:
 

 
Yet for all the progress, we still have a long way to go. Find out how you can get involved in turning the promise of a mercury-free future into a reality.

Beware of Dentists Who Believe Mercury Is No Problem

We just want to take a few minutes of your time this week to share an important article we came across on Dr. Bicuspid, a publication for dental professionals. The article, by Alvin Danenberg, DDS, was a pleasant surprise to us for four reasons:

  1. Dr. Bicuspid is a publication for general dentists, not holistic or biological ones, suggesting that the dangers of mercury are being considered more seriously among conventional dentists.

  2. Dr. Danenberg points out that some general dentists indeed are concerned about placing amalgams, which are, of course, approximately 50% mercury.

  3. The author also points out quite clearly that many general dentists, including a US dental school professor, still believe mercury in the mouth poses no problem, even if they wouldn’t currently place amalgam in the mouth.

  4. He pointed, clearly and accurately, to the science.

  5. “The science,” Dr. Danenberg writes,

    clearly shows mercury is toxic to the human body, and free mercury vapor is emitted from existing dental amalgams constantly as studies such as this one from Science of the Total Environment (September 2011, Vol. 409:20, pp. 4257-4268) show. Just as lead in the water or in paint is potentially toxic, mercury in dental amalgams sitting in teeth is toxic.

    He also offers this:

    My profession is well-trained in the repair of broken and diseased teeth. However, some in my profession are not well-informed of the medical research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Highly trained and competent technical dentists need to be onboard with current medical research to provide patients with the best preventive and reparative treatment possible.

    We share this because while many dentists are making changes, there are those who never look beyond their initial training or habit. The fact is, as time goes on, things change. New biocompatible materials, new bonding techniques, and new technologies can make dentistry safer – but only if a dentist is willing to invest in continuing education and then use what they learned.

For you the patient, the best tip we can give you if you’re looking for a dentist is to ask questions. Know if the person you are entrusting your oral care to is not only committed to continuing education but committed to implementing it in their office.

 

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Two More Victories Against Mercury Amalgam

no mercuryThere’s been some significant progress recently in the fight against dental amalgam – the stuff used to make “silver” fillings. As you may (or may not) know, those “silver” fillings are actually about 50% mercury and still widely used in dentistry today.

Mercury, of course, is a potent neurotoxin. And it’s also why the European Union has decided to ban amalgam fillings in kids under 15, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women. The agreement goes into effect on July 1, 2018.

Additionally, it requires each member nation to create a plan for reducing amalgam use toward the ultimate goal of a total phase out.

“The children of Europe have won,” said Charlie Brown, executive director of Consumers for Dental Choice, www.mercury-free.org, and president of the World Alliance of Mercury-Free Dentistry, www.mercuryfreedentistry.net. “The next generation of European will be safe from mercury dental fillings.”

This new regulation is a crucial step toward a mercury-free future. The EU, after all, is the world’s largest user of dental mercury, going through nearly 100 tons each year.

But it’s also just a partial victory. More needs to be done to protect everyone from chronic exposure to this toxin. Education is a big part of it. Here in the US, most people are still unaware that mercury is the main component of “silver” fillings. They don’t realize there’s cause for concern. They inherently trust their dentist, and most dentists who place amalgams never discuss what they’re made of.

Importantly, amalgam poses risks to far more than just the patient. Dental mercury is also an enormous environmental pollutant – which is why we were thrilled to hear that the EPA finalized its new rule for reducing mercury discharges from dental offices.

Now, all offices that handle dental mercury must have amalgam separators that are up to standard. They work by using gravity to collect solid waste so it can be properly disposed and out of the sewer system. If an office already has separators but they’re not up to standard, the devices must be replaced. All practices must comply by the end of 2019.

“Amalgam separators,” according to the EPA,

are a practical, affordable and readily available technology for capturing mercury and other metals before they are discharged into sewers that drain to POTWs [publicly owned treatment works]. Once captured by a separator, mercury can be recycled.

EPA expects compliance with this final rule will annually reduce the discharge of mercury by 5.1 tons as well as 5.3 tons of other metals found in waste dental amalgam to POTWs.

Offices are also required to collect and recycle scrap amalgam, as well as clean all chairside traps with non-bleach, non-chlorine cleanser to prevent the release of mercury.

It’s estimated that 40% of dental offices already have separators installed due to personal choice or local regulation. But this new rule will bring more than 100,000 US dental offices into compliance.

This is great news for the environment, but again, it’s a partial victory. As long as amalgam is placed in mouths, mercury will still be getting into the environment by way of human waste, cremations, burials, and other avenues. As long as mercury is placed in mouths, it remains a threat to personal, public, and environmental health alike.

We deserve a mercury-free future.

Troubled by Mercury Fillings? You Can Speak Out

The single largest exposure to mercury for most people comes from dental “silver” mercury amalgam fillings. And dental mercury, to put it bluntly, is a problem.
 

 

 
When it comes to the harmful effects of dental mercury, there are countless reports of harm. You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone.

Of course, this puts governments and orthodox dental associations in a bit of a quandary: How to acknowledge mercury as the dangerous neurotoxin it is yet still assure people it’s safe?
 

 

 
And here in the States, the tune is much the same.

If you suspect exposure to mercury has harmed you, you can report your experience to the Federal Drug Administration. Here’s everything you need to know about how to go make you’re your voice is heard. When you share your story with the FDA, you help bring us all closer to a mercury free world.

And, a mercury-free world will be a safer world for everyone.

For Full & Fair Dental Insurance Reimbursement, DEMAND Your Choice

This week is Mercury Awareness Week, a joint campaign by Dr. Mercola and Consumers for Dental Choice to educate people on the problem of dental mercury and the promise of a mercury-free future. Until August 28, 2016, any donation you make to Consumers’ will be matched in full by Dr. Mercola – up to $100,000!

Mercury Awareness Week

Your donation will not only help Consumers for Dental Choice get the word out about the devastating health effects of mercury exposure. It may help you get better insurance coverage on your next dental visit.

If you have dental insurance, you may already know there’s built in bias for mercury amalgam fillings. Amalgam – the fastest, cheapest, most toxic material used to fill teeth – sets the lowest bar that your insurance company uses to determine their “usual and customary” allowance.

Not only does the fiction of “usual and customary” reduce reimbursement, but the fine print of any dental insurance policy may further limit your affordable access to mercury-free dentistry in these ways:

  • Many insurance policies only pay for amalgam in molars. If you want composite, you have to pay out-of-pocket.
  • Many insurance policies that do pay for composite fillings in molars only cover them up to the cost of an amalgam, then leave you to pay the difference.
  • Many insurance policies claim to cover “silver fillings” but don’t tell unsuspecting customers that there’s no such thing as a “silver filling.” They’re mostly mercury.
  • Many insurance policies will not pay for the removal of old amalgams and replacement with composite fillings — even if your dentist believes that’s the best treatment.

And if you ever wondered why some dentists prefer to place amalgams, you should know it’s not only because it’s just what they were taught. Amalgams require little technical skill to place. They only require a crater in your tooth and some packing down of the metal. You don’t need a dry field. No prime, etch, or bond. No layering of materials. No light curing.

This means mercury-filled teeth are fast-filled teeth. The faster they’re placed, the more patients that can be seen. The more patients seen, the more production a dentist can do.

This ability to increase production not only increases what the dentist can earn, but since those amalgams will be reimbursed by insurance, the dentist doesn’t have to wait for payment.

If you feel that everyone should have an affordable choice about what goes into their mouth, if you’d like to see lower priced dental options for mercury-free restorations, if you’d like to see your insurance company pay an equitable amount, if you think it’s time for insurance to catch up with scientific research that supports safer dentistry, then it’s time to DEMAND Your Choice.

This latest campaign by Consumers for Dental Choice provides you with several ways to take action right now and end the “bait and switch” tactics of the insurance companies. There’s a petition you can sign, a letter you can customize and send to your insurer, and a widget you can place on your own site or blog to further spread the word.

We can make a change. But we all need to work together to make a mercury-free future a reality.

Make a donation to Consumers for Dental Choice.

Learn more about Consumers for Dental Choice.

Then/Now: Mercury Amalgam Fillings & Human Health

In 1990, Morley Safer framed a 60 Minutes episode around one simple question: “Is There a Poison in Your Mouth?”

He was referring, of course, to those little “silver” fillings that many people, especially in 1990, didn’t know contain at least 50% mercury. This classic exploration of the mercury in our mouths acknowledged some facts that even today are news to a lot of folks:

  • Mercury is toxic. Really, really TOXIC.
  • Even when mercury is amalgamated – combined with other metals – low levels of mercury vapor are constantly emitted from “silver” amalgam fillings.
  • There’s no scientific evidence supporting the ADA claims that mercury or its vapors are “not going to cause a problem.”
  • FDA oversight on mercury amalgam does not include scientific oversight.
  • Patients have a right to know about the risks of mercury fillings.
  • The ADA issued gag orders and threats of prosecution for “unethical behavior” for any dentists who spoke out against mercury.

 

 
As controversial as this all was back in 1990, it did little to change dentistry. In 2015, journalists were still asking the same question: “Are the Fillings in Your Mouth Toxic?”

To this day, the ADA has the same basic spiel about mercury amalgam:

Dental amalgam is considered a safe, affordable, and durable material that has been used to restore the teeth of more than 100 million Americans.

You might notice the ADA never points toward any science that proves their claim of safety. Instead rather, they imply safety exists in numbers. They invoke the 160+ years that amalgam has been in use. It’s an appeal to tradition – and a logical fallacy (“argumentum ad antiquitatem,” if you want to get fancy and Latin about it).

Still, there’s a glimmer of light on the horizon: The Minamata Convention on Mercury. This treaty is meant to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. It includes steps for a “phase down” of dental mercury.

To date, mercury amalgam placement has been banned in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, and largely in Japan. In addition, the European Environmental Bureau asked European Union member state representatives to support a phase out. Though the US has signed the treaty, the government has yet to take any action.

Still, it offers some hope that someday, dentistry – and other industries – will finally be mercury-free, and our planet a better place for it.

Celebrating Mercury-Free Dentistry

Filling cavities may seem like a really modern thing, but archaeologists have shown that the practice goes way, way back. The earliest known filling is about 6500 years old and made of beeswax. More recently, an even older tooth was found to have once been “drilled” out with flint – about 14,000 years ago!

amalgam vs. composite fillingsThankfully, we’ve come a long way from “drilling” with rock, yet many dentists persist in using one antique technique: filling decayed teeth with mercury “silver” amalgam. The good news is that increasing numbers of them don’t, having opted to go mercury-free.

This week marks the 5th annual Mercury-Free Dentistry Week – an event to celebrate the successes of the mercury-free movement and continue to build awareness. Each day, we’re a bit closer to the end of metal-centric dentistry.

As mentioned, “silver” amalgams are actually about 50% mercury – a well-known neurotoxin. With every bite and swallow, small amounts of the metal are off-gassed and enter the circulation. Some of this mercury is excreted. Some may come to be stored in the body. The potential effects on health are wide-ranging and numerous.

Because of the risks, our office is not only mercury-free but mercury-safe. We do not place amalgam AND we follow strict safety procedures to protect you and our staff and our environment from mercury exposure. This includes

  • Using rubber dam to isolate the teeth and protect the oral cavity.
  • Removing the fillings in chunks so as not to vaporize the mercury, while using copious amounts of water.
  • Using a state-of-the-art Swiss air HEPA filter/vacuum next to the patient and a whole-room purification system to keep the air clean.
  • Rinsing with chlorella to remove any mercury particles.

For more information on safe mercury removal, see this guide from the IAOMT.

With each year, we hope there are fewer amalgams to replace – not because we don’t want to help but because we want to see mercury-free alternatives used. We want fewer amalgams placed. And that goal is slowly becoming reality thanks to developments such as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which has been ratified by 140 countries and includes measures toward a global phase-down of dental amalgam.

But it’s also thanks to people like you. Your support, trust and advocacy are helping change the world.

We can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

Amalgam, Mercury & the Developing Brain

One argument you hear some dentists make in defense of amalgam is that it’s a sturdier, stronger and more forgiving material to work with. They may point to studies such as the one recently published in the European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, which found that amalgam fillings were less prone to failure than composite (by a little) or glass ionomer (by a lot).

But to focus on this issue completely sidesteps the fact that amalgam is 50% mercury. And that mercury is a known neurotoxin, with no safe level of exposure. And that mercury vapor is constantly released from these fillings only to be methylated in the mouth and elsewhere in the body. And that this is happening mere inches from the brain.

Now consider that the human brain is not fully developed until a person is in their mid-20s. Does it seem wise to put this material into the mouths of children or even teens?

human brain development

Heavy metal toxicity, notes DAMS, has been linked to a many neurological and behavioral problems in children, including:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Obsessive/compulsive disorders.
  • Mood disorders.
  • Schizophrenia.
  • Cognitive impairments.
  • ADHD.
  • Autism.
  • Seizures.

A 2014 study in the Journal of Toxicological Sciences looked at the relationship between neurobehavioral changes and changes of gene expression in response to a variety of mercury exposures. “Since the developing brain is extremely vulnerable to mercury toxicity,” wrote the researchers, “the repeated exposure of fetuses and neonates to Hg0 affects neurobehavioral functions.”

The results of the present study also indicate that an increase in the number of altered genes in the brain may be involved in the emergence of neurobehavioral effects, which may be associated with the concentration of mercury in the brain. An increase in the number of genes with altered expression levels implies that changes have occurred in the internal environment of the brain, which may be closely associated with the emergence of neurotoxicity.

A 2011 study in the Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care explains that chronic mercury exposure is problematic at any growth stage.

Because important systems are still differentiating and growing, children have unique susceptibilities not seen in adults—and critical time windows for those susceptibilities. The critical times are preconception, gestation, and postnatal. More than 1 system can be susceptible and different pathology may occur depending on the dose and timing of exposure. The fetus and infant are especially vulnerable to mercury exposures. Of special interest is the development of the central nervous system. With the formation of neuronal cells and the subsequent stages of development, the central nervous system is created. Damage of the nervous system caused by mercury is likely to be permanent. Neurotoxic effects can result from prenatal or early postnatal exposure.

Mercury from amalgam fillings is just one of the largest sources of exposure. Even if the child never has such fillings, they – like all of us – are still affected by mercury pollution from dental offices (mercury entering the water supply) and crematorium emissions. This is above and beyond other industrial pollution and mercury in seafood.

Is it any wonder rates of childhood neurological conditions have skyrocketed?

Fortunately, there are safe and durable alternatives to amalgam when fillings are called for. And there’s an even better alternative to those: a truly comprehensive preventive approach so that fillings are never needed at all.

Dental Mercury Amalgam: The Saga Continues

In Woodstock, Georgia, a whole neighborhood was put on alert recently, after as much as a pint of mercury was discovered in the basement of a home there.

A pint of mercury?!

“They couldn’t tell me where it came from. They said they’ve had it for a long time, a number of years,” EPA coordinator Stephen Ball said. “Some teens were at the house and discovered the mercury and accidentally spilled it.”

One of the teens attends Ace Academy in Canton, and someone at school noticed mercury in the teen’s hair.

The school tested negative for mercury contamination. Not so the home. Others in the area were being tested as this story hit the air late last month.

hgThe EPA took this seriously because mercury is serious business. There is no known “safe” level of exposure. A potent neurotoxin, mercury has been linked to a broad range of environmental and human health concerns, including autoimmune disorders, neurological disorders, cardiovascular problems and “enigmatic” conditions such as CFS, MCS and fibromyalgia.

Of course, a jar full of mercury isn’t the most usual source of exposure for most people. That would be so-called “silver” amalgams, which are actually about 50% mercury. For those with multiple amalgam fillings, up to 90% of their total mercury exposure may come from what’s packed in their teeth.

Despite the known risks and abundant research showing the hazard mercury amalgam presents to human health, agencies like the FDA and organizations like the ADA continue to insist that amalgam is “safe.” In fact, the FDA reinforced the point earlier this year:

After another of its customary multi-year stalls on politically fraught issues, FDA in January substantially denied three five-year-old petitions seeking to rid American dentistry of mercury-based dental amalgams that have been scientifically linked to kidney damage and neurological disabilities and diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.
The link is especially strong in children, neonates, and placental transfer to fetuses, and comes primarily from chewing with amalgam-filled teeth and, to a lesser degree, from eating fish.

Throughout patients’ lifetimes, these fillings release mercury vapor that is absorbed through the lungs and oral mucosa, according to studies submitted with the petitions—documentation FDA essentially dismisses as “not new.”

As it did in 2009 when it classified amalgam as Class II (safe and effective), FDA in January again defied the statutory approval standard for medical devices and drugs—production by manufacturers of substantial clinical evidence of safety and effectiveness.

Instead, the agency again stood by its unseen political directors, who in turn harken to the third-biggest-spending health professionals’ lobby, the strongly pro-amalgam American Dental Association. The association, in turn, answers to the estimated 30% of practicing dentists who still use amalgam because it is cheaper and easier than safer substitutes and who reasonably fear liability lawsuits from amalgam’s ill effects.

Sound familiar?

There is one positive in this, though, as the agency did agree to some changes to their amalgam webpage that make it clearer that amalgam contains mercury and acknowledge at least some health concerns.

It’s something, but as one of the attorneys involved noted, it’s not enough.

The agency, he said, “continues to allow the American people to be poisoned by their mercury fillings despite the scientifically demonstrated risks. Despite the shift of many countries away from mercury fillings, it appears that the FDA believes that the human mouth is a safe place to store mercury.”